Frankie Mazzapica - A Suburb Of Heaven
Thank you for tuning in today, my name is Frankie Mazzapica. The title of the message is "A Suburb of Heaven," "A Suburb of Heaven". Obviously, we are not in the city of heaven right now, but there is a culture in the city of heaven that the Lord wants to establish in your life, and when that happens, we experience the presence of God, we experience the love of God, and we're able to partner with Jesus. In other words, it is not your primary assignment to make a lot of money, to go on vacations, your primary assignment is to partner with the Lord. To share, to experience, first of all, to experience his love, to receive his power in a way when you pray for people, things actually happen, and to share what has been freely given to you. This is your assignment. This is how you partner with Jesus Christ. This is a culture.
Now, in your home you have a culture. If I come to your house this afternoon, I'm gonna follow you into your house, and if you take your shoes off, that's my cue that I'm supposed to take my shoes off. That's the culture in your home. When we eat lunch, I'm gonna follow you. If you go to the dinner table, I'm gonna follow you to the dinner table. But if you have your plate of food, I have my plate of food, and you walk into the living room, then that tells me that the culture of your family is not to eat at the table, it's to eat in the living room. When I see us walk to the living room, and I say, "Well, I'm gonna sit at the table," what I'm doing is I'm recognizing that you have a culture in your home, but I'm saying, "Ah, I'm going to bring my culture into your house," and there's a culture of heaven. It's kind, it's loving, it's peaceful.
I tell you, sometimes the greatest gift that we need is peace. When you have peace, you go to sleep when you wanna go to sleep. Have you ever just stared at the fan in your room, or look at the clock, and you're like, surely, I've gotten some sleep. This peace, when you run into friction, when your relationships, your emotions don't go up, and they go down according to how that relationship is doing, you stay constant. In other words, you can go crazy, you can go crazy, but in my three-foot radius, I'm full of peace. When you're feeling the tension of finances, you back up and you're still full of peace. You're saying, "I don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow, but today I'm eating just fine, I got air conditioning, I'm sleeping on a pillow, I'm doing fine today. I don't know what tomorrow is going to look like, but today I'm doing awesome".
This is what peace looks like. And so, this is the culture of heaven. This is when you are living not in heaven, but you're living in a suburb of heaven. I wanna unpack this message, going to Matthew chapter 7, then we're gonna hit Matthew chapter 8, but I wanna kinda lay a background on what's happening here. There's a gentleman, and give me a little bit of poetic liberty, give me some margin to fill in the blanks. There's a man in scripture, and he looks down at his hand, and he sees sores developing on his hand. He notices that it starts appearing on different parts of his body.
Now, during that period, he knew exactly what was happening. These weren't just normal sores that he could put some ointment on and be healed. He knew that this was leprosy. Now, leprosy could not be cured, and leprosy was highly contagious. If he touches anyone, they have leprosy. And so, it was the culture of the land that if you have leprosy, you are expelled, you have to leave the city. And so, when he left the city he would go where most people go who have leprosy. He'd go up into the mountains, he'd wander around the wilderness, he'd live in caves, hunt for his food.
So, he's up in the cave with all the other people that are ostracized, they gotta go, and all of a sudden, he looks down the mountain and sees the most strange thing. He sees thousands of people, the Bible calls them a multitude, but it's thousands in our world. They're like a herd that's just slowly coming up the mountain. He's looking down and he's thinking to himself how strange of a scene this is. He's doing what he's supposed to be doing. He's staying away from the city, but now the city is coming to him. And he sees in the middle that, oh, there's a guy in the middle, and the crowd is surrounding this guy, and thousands of people are silent just to hear this one guy. He did not know that this guy's name was Jesus.
Here comes the crowd, and then they would stop. When you study the scriptures, this was when Jesus was giving the Beatitudes. It's in Matthew chapter 6, 7, and 8, but the crowd is coming up, and he decides, hey, you're coming to me, I'm not coming to you, I have nowhere else to go. I don't want you to see me, but I do wanna know what's going on. So, he begins to creep down the mountain. He's going from boulder to boulder, he's hiding, he's listening, and he begins to hear things that he has never heard before. He knows the culture of the town, he knows the law of the land, he knows where he belongs, according to the culture. The people have judged him as an unclean person and he's got to go.
And then he hears this man, and you know he's close because he can hear it. He hears Jesus say this, and this is in Matthew chapter 7 verse 1, he says this, "Do not judge others. For those who judge others, you will be judged in the same way you judge them". In verse number 2 it says this, "The way you treat others is the way you will be treated". Now, this is so new to the leper because he knows how he has been treated. He's been treated as a man that must go away. The amount of hurt that this gentleman is feeling is so deep, that even if he wanted to, he couldn't explain it. To say goodbye to his kids, say goodbye to his wife, his father, friends that he grew up with, had to walk away.
As he walked away, I know that he looked over his shoulder. The hurt that's in here, it can't be measured. He knows what it's like to be treated that way, and now he's hearing of a culture that's so beyond him. He's hearing about grace. Now, all of us know that we shouldn't judge people, we know that, and when people judge us, it hurts. So, we know we shouldn't judge people, but I found myself in a situation where I was judging someone and I didn't even know I was judging 'em. So, I have a friend of mine, and he comes over to the house quite often, and he is the most rude, mean person I know.
Now, you may be saying, "Well, why are you inviting him"? Because if he stays for an hour, the first 30 minutes he is the most hysterical person I've ever met. He makes me laugh so much, I cry. Have you ever had... stop, stop talking, like, oh, I can't even breathe. Like, stop it, like, you're banging on something. This is how he is. But after about the halfway mark, if he's staying for two hours, about the hour mark, he becomes so increasingly rude. Like, for example, if we're sitting at the table, and there's two other people at the table, and they're talking but now he wants to talk, he'll look at them and say, "Are you done yet? Are you finished yet"?
Now, the rest of us, we don't want to look at him and say, "You're rude," because now he's going to turn his sights on us and chew us to death. And so, we're like, you know, and so I was daydreaming in the car. I thought to myself, somebody needs to tell this guy how mean he is, and I think I'm going to volunteer to be that guy. And so, I start preparing my speech. You are so rude, and I know why you're rude. It's because you're so insecure that you gotta pull people down. You gotta rule the room. You have to take over the conversation, because that's when you get affirmation that you're somebody special. When you make people laugh, you get that affirmation. And if anybody challenges your floor when you have the floor, you bring them down because now they're challenging you.
So, here I go, I'm going off in my head. I feel the Lord speak to me, not out loud, just right down in here, and I feel him just say, well, if you know that he's got these problems, why are you not giving him any grace? You already know that he's got these emotional handicaps. You don't know when they started. It could have started when he was a kid, you don't know. So, if you already know he's got problems, why don't you give him some grace? Stop judging the guy.
See, on the rare occasion I go to the mall, I don't like shopping at a mall. If there were nobody in the mall, I probably wouldn't mind, but the people, there's too many people. It's overwhelming for me, and especially when I'm walking down the hall, or whatever you want to call it, and you got five people shoulder to shoulder walking in front of me. They're in no rush at all. They don't even know I'm behind them, and they're just talking, showing each other stuff on their phone, and I'm walking behind them, and I'm like, do you not know how frustrating it is to walk behind you right now? And I'm looking for a crack between the last person and the wall, so I can just dart around them. And I wanna look at them while I'm passing them. I just wanna be like, "What's wrong with you"?
You know when you pass somebody on the road because they're driving slow? You can't help but to look in the rearview mirror, and sometimes, I know none of us do this, but there are people that when they pass them, they gotta stare at them. Like, "Are you okay in there"? It's so frustrating to follow these people in the mall. However, if I'm following someone who's got a walker, if I'm following someone who's in a wheelchair, if I'm following somebody who's got a cane, if I'm following somebody who needs assistance in any way with the person that's standing next to them, I am in no rush at all. Take your time. I have nowhere to be, and anywhere I need to be is less important. Take your time. In fact, if I do pass them, I'm going to pass them slowly, just so I don't make them awkward. But what's the difference between the five people and the one person?
The one person has an ailment, they don't... they...what's the... they have a handicap. So, there's a tremendous amount of grace there, but my friend, his handicap is not physical, it's mental, it's emotional, and I'm treating him as a healthy person. And so, therefore I'm judging him as if he's healthy, but he's not. And I felt, look, Frankie, the way you're gonna judge him is the way you are gonna be judged, whoo. And so, the leper is hearing this and he said, oh, my goodness, I can't believe this, and then he hears Jesus say something else.
This is in Matthew 7 verse 7, he says this, he goes, "You parents, if you who are sinful know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your Father in heaven know how to give good gifts to you"? Now, as the leper, he knows that he will give everything that he can afford to his children. Those of you who are parents in this room, if we're going to be blatantly honest, your children only need a couple shirts, and a couple pairs of pants, and one pair of shoes. They really don't need more than that. Now, they would argue that, but they don't need more than that. So, why in the world do they have so many shirts, pants, and shoes? Because as a parent, you want to give them all the good things that you're capable of giving them. And if you and I, who are sinful, wanna give the best of the best, how much more does the Father look at you?
Now, the leper is sitting there going, "Who is this Father? Who is this Father? Because everybody I know is pushing me away, and now you're telling me that there's a Father that loves me more than I love my own kids". I vividly remember walking around the block one time, and it was late at night, the kids had already gone to bed. Our kids were just toddlers at the time. I'm walking around the block and I'm crying. I don't even remember what the issue was, but it was a major problem in my life. I'd take five steps, raise my hands and talk to the Lord. I'd take another five steps, raise my hands, talk to the Lord. I was out there for I don't know how long, it was well over an hour. I may have even crossed two hours, because every time I was getting ready to close it up and go home, I would tell God, "There's too much on the line. There's too much at stake for me to stop praying. I can't stop".
Finally, I was walking back to the house, I was starting to wrap it up, so I gave one more plead, and I felt the Lord speak to me again. Again, not out loud, it's just like lightning speed, like, right in here. The Lord asked me, do you think that you're a better parent than I am? It rocked me. I just started crying. I didn't have to answer him, even though I had said 1,000 words over the past hour and a half. I didn't have to say any words. I knew, and God knew I knew, that he's a better parent than I am. And when I met my children, I met individuals that I would die for, and the Lord's telling me, do you think you're more loving than me?
And so, here the leper is hearing this, the leper, here he's hearing this, and he's saying, I don't know what kind of world, I don't know what kind of culture you're talking about, and if you'll allow me, I've heard about heaven, I've heard about the Messiah, and I feel like we're in a suburb of heaven. You create a suburb of heaven. Your home becomes a suburb of heaven. When you open your mouth, you don't just sit there and think it, you open your mouth and you tell the Lord I love you, I love you, I love you. When you play worship music in your house, your house turns into a sanctuary. I've learned that when worship music is playing, your spirit and your attitude does not want to clash with it, because there's worship music playing. It's kind of like here in the sanctuary. Your spirit knows you don't need to be rude to people, you're in the sanctuary of the Lord.
Now, when you get out of your seats in just a few moments, if somebody walks in front of you, what do you do? Hey, hey, go ahead, go ahead, no problem. Hey, go ahead. But if you're backing your car out in a parking lot, and somebody goes like, what is wrong, can you believe? But you're in the sanctuary and you're following the culture of heaven. The sanctuary is a suburb of heaven. And what I've learned is when you're playing worship music in your house, you're talking to the Lord, you're creating in your home a sanctuary. You're creating in your car a moving sanctuary, and you begin to establish a culture, and the same thing that happens to you in the sanctuary happens to you at home.
Where somebody says something that would typically merit a response to the same degree of attitude that you're receiving, but when you're in the culture of heaven, you just, hey, I'm gonna let that slide. You go one chapter on, you go to chapter 8 verse 1, it says as the multitudes were listening to Jesus, as they were following him, the leper runs towards Jesus. He's hearing the culture, he's hearing the love. He's never heard of anything like this before, and he runs towards the Lord. The crowd parts like the Red Sea, and Jesus looks at him, and he falls before him, and he says these words, "If you are willing, will you heal me"?
Isn't it true that we believe that God can touch someone else's life and our confidence and our faith that he'll do that is higher than it is when we believe that God will touch us? And we think... and that's what he was thinking. I've watched everything you're doing, but will you love me in the same way? The Bible says that Jesus reached out and touched him.
Now, I think that it was in slow motion for him, because no one has touched him in years. No hug, no handshake, no embrace, no pat on the back. He hasn't felt a touch in years, and here comes this hand, and in the eyes of Jesus, there's like this liquid love. And he reaches out, and he's touched, and in a moment, his physical body is healed. But not just his physical body, every single hurt, every ounce of rejection, every piece of pain. All of a sudden, every scratch, every pierce of the heart was healed, all of him. I heard a story one time of this little boy who kept falling out of the bed.
Every time he went to sleep, he'd fall out of the bed. Finally, he got so tired, he was just a little toddler, the next morning he told his mom, "I need a new bed. My bed is broke". And the mother looked back at him and said, "Why do you think your bed is broke"? And the little toddler said, "Mom, every night I'm falling out of the bed". And she looks at her son and she says, "The bed's not broke, you're just not in far enough". I wanna tell you that God is not deaf, nor is his hand too short to save, we just got to lean in a little bit more. Maybe there's just too much distance. Do you receive that?
Come on, put your hands together. It's not in deep enough. I want to tell you, every single prayer you pray, you're closer and closer. Don't think your prayers, say your prayers. It's kind of like the person, you know they love you even though they never say it, but man, if they would ever say it, you know how much that would mean. The Lord knows you love him, but your relationship is built on prayer. I've learned just as many as you have learned, short prayers are powerful prayers, and they build more strength the closer those prayers are together. And where the gap of time becomes smaller and smaller, this is when you build around yourself a suburb of heaven.